Igrejas, São Paulo
Possibly one of the most beautiful churches in São Paulo, Igreja Nossa Senhora do Brasil is located in the desirable neighbourhood of Jardim América. Although it was built only in 1940, the church is faithful to Portuguese Baroque architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. The interior is equally beautifully, decorated with paintings and Portuguese tiles. The altar contains an 18th century statue. The church stands out amid the gardens and mansions of Jardim América.
Officially called Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Santa Ifigênia, this Romanesque-style church with Gothic details is in the heart of the neighbourhood in Centro known simply as Santa Ifigênia. The church was built in 1910 to replace the demolished colonial-period chapel, Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição. After its construction, Santa Ifigênia served as the city's temporary cathedral while Catedral da Sé was being built. The Santa Ifigênia neighbourhood is famous for its steel pedestrian bridge, Viaduto Santa Ifigênia, which links it to São Bento, and also for its many music-related shops.
Built in 1907 as a replacement to an older chapel, the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Consolação has one of the highest church towers in São Paulo, rising 75 metres. The Gothic revival design was the work of the German architect Maximilian Hehl, who also designed the city's Catedral Metropolitana.
Located in the shadow of Catedral da Sé, the colourful colonial church of São Gonçalo is hardly noticeable. It was built in the 18th century, but the façade was rebuilt in 1878. The interior has beautiful Baroque details. Igreja de São Gonçalo is among only a handful of surviving colonial-period churches in São Paulo.
Built by the freed slave community of São Paulo, the original Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos was located elsewhere, on Praça Antônio Prado. In 1904, a new edifice was built in the middle of the square, Largo de Paissandú, and the church relocated here. The beautiful bright mustard-coloured Neo-Romanesque church continues to serve the black community of the city. Unfortunately, this neighbourhood is rather seedy and is best avoided. The gardens in the square around the church seem to attract shady characters and homeless people. I did not know that until I found myself surrounded by four women who were clearly waiting for some business...
Also one of the few surviving colonial-period churches in São Paulo, the Igreja das Chagas do Seráfico Pai São Francisco was built in 1676 and further enlarged in 1787. When I visited in Jan 2009, the church was closed and its beautiful Baroque façade was showing its age, particularly as it stands next to the recently renovated Igreja de São Francisco de Assis.
One of the oldest surviving churches in São Paulo, the colourful Portuguese-style Igreja de São Francisco de Assis was built in 1642. Although the structure dates from that era, part of it had to be heavily restored following a damaging fire in 1870. The church was again recently restored to bring it to its former glory and its fresh look is quite a contrast to adjacent church which desperately needs to be renovated.